This Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who sees the return of John Simm’s Master, a former incarnation of the Time Lord’s greatest foe (succeeded by Michelle Gomez’ Missy and preceded by the likes of Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley among others) who last starred in the series way back in 2010’s The End of Time.
And with the Master back in action we couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic, so for your viewing pleasure we’ve collected together some of Simm’s best bits as Gallifrey’s deadliest son. Despite his relatively brief time on the series (he only previously appeared in five episodes) it’s safe to say we had a lot to choose from.
After Derek Jacobi’s brief but memorable turn as a newly-awakened Master in 2007’s Utopia, Doctor Who treated fans to a real first – a proper regeneration scene for the Doctor’s greatest foe, which had never been seen on screen before.
Riffing off David Tennant’s own manic post-regeneration performance, Simm’s Master was instantly charismatic, funny and new, and set the tone for his appearances thereafter.
Calling the Doctor
The Doctor and the Master reunite for the first time in over a decade through a phone call that captures so many aspects of their relationship – at once adversarial, collegiate, flirtatious and sombre – in a scene that perfectly brought their dynamic to a whole new (re)generation.
A defining moment from the classic series of Doctor Who saw the Master enjoying an episode of The Clangers, so in The Sound of Drums writer Russell T Davies subtly updated the idea to show off Simm’s incarnation finding appreciation for the evolutionary genius of the Teletubbies.
Because of the gas!
The Master showed off his darker side in this unsettlingly amusing scene, where he cheerfully gasses his Cabinet colleagues upon becoming UK Prime Minister, all while trying to teach them to have a sense of humour.
Here Come the Drums
The end of The Sound of Drums has so many great moments – Simm’s Master throwing out old catchphrases, murdering the US President and teaching us all the correct use of the world decimate – but the crowning glory has to be his invasion of Earth while pumping out music from Rogue Traders track Voodoo Child.
Though of course, this wasn’t to be the Master’s last musical moment…
I Can’t Decide
Coming at the beginning of series three finale Last of the Time Lords, this offbeat dance sequence (which saw John Simm sing along to the Scissor Sisters while tormenting an aged Doctor and Martha Jones’ family) was a darkly funny exploration of the Master’s ego and tyranny. It’s just a shame that rights issues occasionally saw it removed from DVD and streaming versions of the episode – truly, the episode is poorer without it.
Refusing to die
At the end of the series finale, Simm’s Master confounds the Doctor’s expectations (and previous versions of the character) by refusing to regenerate when shot, choosing to find victory in the Doctor’s misery when he died in the knowledge that he proved his old enemy (who believed the Master could never let himself perish) wrong.
The Master Race
Among his many other fine qualities as an actor, John Simm can pull out a cackling evil laugh that’s second to none, so it was great to see it so well deployed in this scene (from 2010’s The End of Time part one) as the Time Lord replaces every member of the human race (bar Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble and Bernard Cribbins’ Wilfred Mott) with a version of himself.
Props too for Simm’s commitment to playing so many different (and equally manic) versions of himself.
The very last time we saw Simm’s Master he was taking on the Time Lords and (perhaps inadvertently) saving the Doctor’s life, expelling his own life force to beat down Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) and follow his people back into the hell of the Time War.
We’ll soon be finding out exactly what happened to Simm’s Master after that moment of sacrifice, but be sure of one thing – we doubt he’ll be quite as helpful to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor as he ended up being to David Tennant’s…
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Doctor Who continues on BBC1 this Saturday 24th June at 6.45pm